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MCCRAE v. MARQUES

February 10, 1988

FRANKLIN McCRAE, Plaintiff,
v.
FILIPE MARQUES, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRIS

MEMORANDUM ORDER (February 10, 1988)

 STANLEY S. HARRIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This matter is before the Court on the motion of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to reconsider the Court's Memorandum Opinion of March 16, 1987. Upon consideration of the motion, the oppositions thereto, and the entire record herein, the Court concludes that the motion must be denied.

 The Court recited the basic facts of this case in its March 16 opinion. Pursuant to the Court's invitation in footnote 6 of that opinion, WMATA intervened to request reconsideration. Although WMATA's arguments do not persuade the Court to alter its ruling, the Court deems it appropriate to clarify one of the issues discussed in the opinion.

 WMATA argues that the District of Columbia Council intended the District of Columbia Workers' Compensation Act, D.C. Code §§ 36-301 through 36-344, to be the primary statutory scheme governing parties' rights in situations such as the instant case in which both the Workers' Compensation Act and the Compulsory/No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act of 1982 (No-Fault), D.C. Code §§ 35-2101 through 35-2115, apply yet provide inconsistent results. *fn1" The Court does not agree. The Court concludes that the Council intended benefits payable under the Workers' Compensation Act to be primary over benefits payable under No-Fault; however, No-Fault remains the primary statutory scheme governing parties' rights in situations where both laws apply.

 Section 35-2110(b) of No-Fault provides in part:

 
(b) SUBTRACTION OF CERTAIN OTHER BENEFITS
 
All benefits (less reasonably incurred collection costs) that an individual receives or may receive, with respect to an injury, from:
 
* * * *
 
* * * *
 
shall be subtracted in calculating personal injury protection benefits unless the law authorizing or providing for those benefits makes them secondary to or duplicative of personal injury protection benefits.

 The Workers' Compensation Act does not make benefits paid under Workers' Compensation secondary or duplicative of personal injury protection (PIP) benefits; therefore, PIP benefits must be paid only if the benefits paid under Workers' Compensation do not accord an injured individual the full measure of recovery he would receive from PIP benefits. This conclusion is buttressed by § 35-2110(f) of No-Fault, which provides that "except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), personal injury protection benefits and insurance shall be primary over any other applicable insurance." Therefore, benefits payable under Workers' Compensation are primary over benefits payable under No-Fault.

 Although the benefits payable under Workers' Compensation are primary over PIP benefits, the remedies under Workers' Compensation for an employer to recoup benefits paid from liable third parties are not primary over the remedies set forth in No-Fault. In situations where both No-Fault and Workers' Compensation apply, an employer may recoup benefits paid under Workers' Compensation only through the avenues provided in No-Fault. No-Fault imposes limitations on civil actions arising from automobile accidents. *fn2" The Court believes that the more limited remedies available under No-Fault should govern parties' rights in situations where both laws apply because (1) the Council enacted No-Fault after the Workers' Compensation Act, and, under the general rule of statutory construction, the statute enacted last in time governs where the laws provide inconsistent results; (2) if an individual injured in the course of his employment (or his employer, as assignee) were permitted to bring a civil action unhindered by the limitations imposed by No-Fault, such an individual (or employer) would enjoy the benefits of a classification (i.e., employees injured in the course of their employment, as distinguished from individuals injured other than in the course of employment) for which the Court can discern no rational basis; and (3) the Council made a policy decision to limit the proliferation of lawsuits arising from automobile accidents, and permitting an individual ...


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